PHP parse/syntax errors; and how to solve them?

Everyone runs into syntax errors. Even experienced programmers make typos. For newcomers, it’s just part of the learning process. However, it’s often easy to interpret error messages such as:

PHP Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ‘{’ in index.php on line 20

The unexpected symbol isn’t always the real culprit. But the line number gives a rough idea of where to start looking.

Always look at the code context . The syntax mistake often hides in the mentioned or in previous code lines . Compare your code against syntax examples from the manual.

While not every case matches the other. Yet there are some general steps to solve syntax mistakes . This references summarized the common pitfalls:

Closely related references:


While Stack Overflow is also welcoming rookie coders, it’s mostly targetted at professional programming questions.

  • Answering everyone’s coding mistakes and narrow typos is considered mostly off-topic.
  • So please take the time to follow the basic steps, before posting syntax fixing requests.
  • If you still have to, please show your own solving initiative, attempted fixes, and your thought process on what looks or might be wrong.

If your browser displays error messages such as “SyntaxError: illegal character”, then it’s not actually php-related, but a javascript-syntax error.

Syntax errors raised on vendor code: Finally, consider that if the syntax error was not raised by editing your codebase, but after an external vendor package install or upgrade, it could be due to PHP version incompatibility, so check vendor’s requirements against your platform setup.